Bradley Manning Is Nominated for Nobel Peace Prize as Court-Martial Begins

Last Thursday Bradley Manning, the former US Army soldier accused of leaking sensitive government documents to WikiLeaks, began the process of a formal court-martial. Manning is charged with 22 different counts, including “aiding the enemy,” and could potentially find himself in prison for life. Manning deferred a plea, which means that his defense team has a little more time to assess the situation and strategize. Manning also deferred a decision as to whether he will be judged by a military judge or a panel of military peers, senior officers or servicemembers of rank no lower than Manning’s. Manning’s lawyers have argued that the US government is drawing out Manning’s prosecution unnecessarily and thus denying him his right to a speedy trial. While waiting for his trial, Manning’s treatment in jail has been extraordinarily harsh; as of a year ago, he was being made to sleep naked in jail, ostensibly as a safety precaution. 

While Manning and his lawyers were deciding how best to approach his court martial, someone was also deciding to nominate him for a Nobel Peace Prize. A few reports claim that the nomination came from Icelandic Parliamentarians (thanks to commenter dizzy for the tip!). He’s one of 231 people up for the award this year, including human rights activists and politicians credited with international peacemaking. Some believe that the nomination isn’t particularly meaningful, and is little more than an indication of being “popular on the political left and objectionable to the political right.” Given the number of protestors who have aligned themselves with Manning’s cause, it’s maybe not surprising. But not just anyone can nominate a person for the Nobel Peace Prize; the nomination process involves sending out letters of invitation only to individuals qualified to nominate, which means:

“…members of national assemblies, governments, and international courts of law; university chancellors, professors of social science, history, philosophy, law and theology; leaders of peace research institutes and institutes of foreign affairs; previous Nobel Peace Prize Laureates; board members of organizations that have received the Nobel Peace Prize; present and past members of the Norwegian Nobel Committee; and former advisers of the Norwegian Nobel Institute.”

Manning’s story is uniquely situated in a time in American history defined both by war and by concerns about privacy and access to information; his nomination for this award is deeply telling, as is the fact that in the process of his court-martial he’s already been held in pre-trial confinement for 635 days, and his prosecutors now say that a full trial may not begin until August. Although Manning’s winning the award is perhaps not probable, it is technically possible that Manning could be imprisoned for life for aiding the enemy (and 21 other counts) while also winning a Nobel Peace Prize for the same series of decisions.

And even aside from his political significance and the possible ramifications of his trial (some believe that Manning is being pressured to accept a plea which would implicate Julian Assange), if he won the award, Manning would be among very few out gay recipients of any Nobel prize. This year, the founder of the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, Louis-George Tin, is also being put forward for a prize. If Tin wins, he would be the first Nobel Peace Prize recipient in history to have won for fighting for LGBT rights.

Bradley Manning will never cease to be a divisive figure, and neither his court-martial nor his nomination will change that. In fact, they’re likely to incite more debate around the motivation for and implications of his actions. But if nothing else, they let us know that highly prestigious and powerful institutions also potentially disagree on how his decisions should be viewed. And when looking at a long list of Nobel Prize nominees and winners who are almost uniformly heterosexual (as far as we know), it’s perhaps worthwhile to consider that we live in a time when the person causing so much dissent and debate is an out gay person, because we’re openly involved in the lives of our nations and our communities in a way we weren’t able to be in generations past. Bradley Manning may not be the face of an out gay soldier that the majority would have preferred to make history, but the fact is that if there’s any real possibility of Bradley Manning being an out gay Nobel Prize winner, maybe there are more in the future.

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Originally from Boston, MA, Rachel now lives in the Midwest. Topics dear to her heart include bisexuality, The X-Files and tacos. Her favorite Ciara video is probably "Ride," but if you're only going to watch one, she recommends "Like A Boy." You can follow her on twitter and instagram.

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  1. this is getting ridiculous (with all due respect to manning and what he’s been throughout!). he’s a military. and he hasn’t done a life-long effort to sustain peace. obama also got a nobel some years ago and the latest news is that they are preparing to invade iran. seriously nobel institution, you are losing your integrity!

    • Alfacinha,

      It’s really hard to overstate how impactful Manning’s leaks have been to world peace. By exposing the systems of corruption used to used to perpetuate war and oppression, they gave a boon to people trying to tackle these systems. These documents are the reason America has pulled out of Iraq, and is in the process of pulling out of Afghanistan. They’re also a catalyst for the Arab Spring (by exposing just how corrupt a lot of the Mideast dictators were).

      The Nobel Peace Prize is about doing the most to advance peace. For most, that means life-long dedication in the hopes of minor advancement. Others, however, sometimes get the chance to do something very big all at once. Manning is only 24, and facing life imprisonment. That certainly seems like dedication.

    • Please correct me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that the reason Manning’s trans status is public knowledge is because zir’s private internet conversations were made public. In that case, it would have been a forced outing, so I’m not sure what the best way to handle press would be in the absence of any direct statement from Manning. Please let me know if there has been a statement that I’m missing.

    • Manning hasn’t actually transitioned. It doesn’t mean he’s not trans or that he won’t transition in the future, but it does mean he’s not out and publicly identifying as female at this time.

      This is not about misgendering someone. It is about not outing someone or deciding the time of their transition for them. Manning has very little control over his situation as it is. Just because Manning said he didn’t want pictures of him as a boy to be out there doesn’t mean he wanted us all to call her Breanna before transitioning.

      I get it. We all would’ve liked to have started calling Jodi Foster a lesbian 20 years ago. But knowing doesn’t give anyone the right to declare the timing of a person’s coming out process.

  2. Seriously…Seriously…The fact remaims that Bradley Manning, committed Treason against The United States. He swore to uphold and defend the Constitution of The United States, to protect this Nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic. He deserves, at the very least, if not death by firing squad, which at one time was the punishment for Treason, to spend the rest of his life in Leavenworth, in the General Population. I have absolutely no respect for any person who gives classified documents to an organization such as wikileaks. That is not committment for a cause. If he was truly committed, he would have released the documents himself, putting his own name on the release.

    The Nobel Prize Committee lost its integrity years ago when it gave the prize to President Carter and overlooked President Reagan. Reagan did a great deal more for world peace than Carter can ever hope to accomplish.

    • “He swore to uphold and defend the Constitution of The United States, to protect this Nation against all enemies, foreign and domestic.”

      That’s exactly what Manning did, upheld the Constitution against domestic enemies. They just happened to be the American military.

  3. Completely erasing Manning’s gender identity and referring to them as “gay” is incredibly problematic and disrespectful to both Manning and the trans* community at large. Please stop erasing us whenever it’s convenient.

  4. This has nothing to do with his gender identity. His identity is irrelevant. He committed Treason against the United States and should be punished to the fullest extent of the law The United States Constitution allows – which does specify aiding the enemy as Treason – Article 3, Section 3. His identity has nothing to do with his crime. Liberals avoid the real issue. In this case, it is the fact that Manning committed Treason against The United States. Bringing his gender identity out is merely an attempt to distract from the issue and bring Manning sympathy. I do not care what manning’s gender identity currently is – He committed Treason against The United States, that is the only issue that is important, and the only issue that matters.

    • I don’t think you asserted your allegation that Pte Manning committed treason against the United States enough times. Someone might have missed the point.

    • So if Manning were assigned female at birth and ID’d as a lesbian, did the same act of revealing info and was imprisoned in the same manner, and was then referred to in all articles as “he” and “him” and given a misgendered name you would have no issue with it? Really?

    • Carroll, when you insist on referring to someone who is most likely trans* by their assigned gender, you’re showing disrespect. Not just disrespect to Manning, but to the entire trans* community. That means all of the trans* Americans who haven’t done what Manning, who might even agree with your assessment of Manning’s actions. That’s how bigotry works, it paints with a broad brush. You wouldn’t use the N-word if Manning were black, not because you like Manning, but because that language extends beyond this personal case. Deciding to respect Manning’s gender identity, or at the very least acknowledge their gender ambiguity with the wide selection of gender neutral pronouns available, is a way to acknowledge the trans* community. And really, how different is it from saying “She committed treason.”

      • I’ll admit, I called Manning “he” a bunch of times in my other comment and I’d like to apologize. I appreciate the education because I can be insensitive without meaning to. BUT, I also happen to have a lot of opinions about the N-word. First and foremost, the reason you don’t call a black person that is because it invokes lashes across the back, forced illiteracy, murder, and basically a thousand other abuses resulting from kidnapping people from their home and treating them like property. While I can’t speak for black people as a whole (and don’t know for a fact that you’re not black), I can tell you that I would appreciate it if you didn’t co-opt such a charged word to prove a point about gender identity. The histories are different, even if the severity and urgency of combating the oppression may be similar.

    • “He committed Treason against The United States, that is the only issue that is important, and the only issue that matters.”

      I have to assume this is trolling, but I can’t not respond to this. Manning hasn’t been convicted of treason, and to present this as fact is wrong. Manning is alleged to have committed treason, is being mistreated in prison, and being denied the right to a speedy trial, and THAT is the only issue that matters — since Manning is, after all, innocent until proven guilty.

    • Sometimes (Oftentimes) laws are wrong.

      This has been the case throughout history, and it stay that way until enough people disrespect/disobey it and the law changes.

      Isn’t democracy built on civil disobedience?

  5. Yeah, please fix this article NOW.
    I can’t believe that yall are just ignoring their potential identification as trans and calling them a gay man?

    Maybe you just missed the news memo, and I sure as hell am a supporter of everything Manning’s done with Wikileaks, but PLZ FIX THIS RIGHT NOW.

    PS, Manning’s case also fits into a much larger context of assaults on the civil liberties of activists in the United States under Obama (and before).

  6. Most of my comments are meant to be funny..This one will not be any of those..This is a tough one for me..I’m a “military brat”..My Dad was a career military officer, and in some respects, my siblings and I grew up “in the service”..I can see how what this service-member did impacted the world..I can see the good it did..But I can also see that this service-member took an oath..That oath is sacred to me..I wanted to serve my country..Several of my siblings did..I chose not to because I refused to lie or hide who I am as a gay woman..I refused to live in the shadows hoping not to be found out..I was out..I was proud..And so I did not enlist..Because I could not take the oath and serve silently..This service-member made a choice..This service-member knew the consequences of that choice..Sometimes we make the hard decisions because they are the right decisions..But that does not release us from those consequences..Those we have to live with..I am sorry for any ill treatment this individual is receiving..That needs to be addressed and rectified..But to suggest that violating one’s oath simply gets a pass..I’m sorry..I can’t abide that

    • I am in the military, and I want to see Manning court-martialed, found guilty, and sentenced. understand that there has been some benefit from the leaks, but the fact is that PVT Manning disobeyed orders, and PVT Manning’s actions jeopardized the safety of fellow military members. The idea that PVT Manning would get a Nobel Peace Prize for violating orders (and placing fellow soldiers in jeopardy) makes me a little sick.

      • When obeying orders means that you’re causing harm it’s your duty to disobey.

        A lot of people seem very ready to forget that in the documents that Pfc Manning unveiled some horrible horrible possibly illegal things that the US military was doing.

        • I would be more inclined to see your point if Manning had publicly released the documents and/or deserted the military. Manning elected to stay in. Staying in kind of defeats the Nuremburg principle.
          (But I did have the wrong rank, I should have written PFC Manning.)

        • I agree that Manning took steps to expose what he saw as great injustices, but he also dumped 90,000 documents en masse into the public forum. It is not a conservative talking point to say that those actions risk causing harm to military operations, which, legitimacy of those operations aside, literally means a body count. Lives. Unless you can tell me with certainty that he did no harm then he deserves to be prosecuted (leaving aside the humanity of his treatment while jailed for another discussion).

          • I’m sorry, but that is a myth. Manning didn’t dump a single file into the public domain. What Manning is alleged to have done is take documents (262 million in all) and hand them over to Wikileaks. Wikileaks then shared the information with major news organizations ahead of releasing the documents, in many instances going over which parts to redact to ensure civilian safety. Also, Wikileaks repeated offered to coordinate these efforts with the State Department, but were rebuffed. On two separate occasions, the protocol broke down, and whole swathes of information were released, unredacted, online (it should be noted that Manning, as a news source, isn’t really obligated to know which parts to redact or not. That’s what we have journalists for). In those instances, because of the long time between receiving the information and publishing it, people who might’ve been in danger from this disclosure were able to get to safety. So, no, there is not one single instance of a civilian, lawyer, journalist, or human rights activist who was harmed as a result of these leaks.

          • I’m referring to Wikileaks and the news media as the public domain as opposed to the classified domain under which they originally fell. While certain details were redacted and certain individuals able to run to safety, the point is Manning risked endangering them in the first place. You can also never assess the true damage of an intelligence leak. It’s like dropping a pebble into a pond and watching the ripples. I’m thinking of the military and of the US diplomatic mission. No one will know the full effect and that’s the reason the documents are classified in the first place. Again, I think it’s one thing to leak footage of an unjust airstrike. It’s quite another to dump docs indiscriminately.

      • I understand that as a soldier, one’s duty is to the rest of the unit, but the potential risk to Manning’s fellow soldiers were probably lower than the risks Manning refused to follow and decided to draw light on. Let’s all remember that most of the casualties of war are not trained for battle and equipped with powerful weapons; I think the lives saved by Manning’s leak outnumber the potential trained soldiers.

    • oath or morals?

      I would rather be able to sleep at night than say that I upheld an oath that was covering up murder.

      • I actually agree with you..I’m simply saying that Pfc Manning nor anyone else should be surprised that the Govt. or more specifically, the Military are following through with the court martial..As they should..Pfc. Manning followed her conscience rather than the oath, her sworn duty or the law..Her reasons don’t negate the actions, and actions have cosequences..She knew what she was doing..She took a chance hoping she wouldn’t get caught..She was wrong, and now she must answer for those actions..It is not my wish to see this person suffer..I have great empathy for her..But she knew the cost..

        • I think that if this were a nation that actually believed in the ideals that it pretends to be about then Pfc Manning would be protected under whistle-blower protections. But that’s not how America works so the court martial will happen and probably Manning will be found guilty of treason and we will have another example of why we as individuals can’t possible hope to stand up against the military complex that America is now.

          • You make some very good points..Nothing about this story has been easy for me and I don’t really feel comfortable with some of my own over simplified thoughts..I like that this story..This site and this comment thread has me thinking and re-thinking the issue..I would hope that nothing ever successfully deters you or others from standing up against any wrong doing you perceive..This has been thought provoking..And while I’m not sure you and I will ever fully agree on this issue..I thank you for giving me pause

          • It’s simple to say this nation doesn’t believe in its ideals. Our nation is made up of We the People, and people are imperfect. We fall short, we fail ourselves and our ideals. As far as I’ve seen, though, Americans move forward. When my father was a child he couldn’t go to school with whites. When I first got together with my girlfriend, we couldn’t marry in the state we lived in. I think that this whole ordeal will give our nation pause and stir up debate and action. I think that the War on Terror will. I think that this whole era of early 20th century war will. Perfection doesn’t just fall into our hands, we have to earn it.

          • Let’s talk about how America upholds it’s own ideals when the first Amendment isn’t in the middle of being shredded.

          • No let’s talk about what’s happening. What we don’t like. What we won’t stand for. And how to change it.

  7. I like how this topic sits riiiiiight at the intersection of approx. 20 different totally non-controversial questions.

    it’s like, how do you feel about the U.S. military? and civil liberties? and patriotism? and war? and peace? and human rights? and sexual orientation and gender identity? and journalism? and publicly outing someone?

    I will say I’m surprised there aren’t enough articles in the world about Manning that trollers ended up here on AS.

    • It really is a wonder that no one found a way to work in contraception and race into this.

      Maybe the right-wing trolls can come up with something. Anybody up for the challenge?

  8. “And when looking at a long list of Nobel Prize nominees and winners who are almost uniformly heterosexual (as far as we know), it’s perhaps worthwhile to consider that we live in a time when the person causing so much dissent and debate is an out gay person, because we’re openly involved in the lives of our nations and our communities in a way we weren’t able to be in generations past.”

    i liked this part

    on the whole, this is really thought provoking and well written, amongst other things that are also good! thank you for posting this.

  9. Thousands of us would love to see Bradley honored for his part in giving the public the information we need and which has been denied to us by government. However, the Nobel Peace Prize blew it when they awarded the War President, Obama, the prize and did not demand that he return it when he immediately dispatched 30,000 more troops to one of his wars, not to mention the continuing assault of drones upon innocent civilians.
    Some might say, it was up to Obama to have the graciousness and honor to return the prize which he obviously did not earn. But that didn’t happen, did it? A lot of things didn’t happen. So we are left with a hugely disappointing president and a completely discredited Peace Prize.

    • He’s the war president? Okay then. I guess George W. Bush spent all of his time petting little lambs and sticking flowers down the barrels of rifles. And you know, Obama and that whole ending the Iraq war thing? I mean come on now. You can criticize the guy but don’t get too comfy with all that hyperbole, I’m just sayin.

  10. All I will do is echo the statement others have already made: for a website that pretends to be trans inclusive and friendly (especially while being a space for “girl on girl culture”) I am HORRIFIED and APPALLED that this article was written with complete disregard to the information that has been clear FOR MONTHS on Pte. Manning’s gender identity. This article should IN NO INSTANCE refer to Manning as a gay man (or even a gay person).

    I DEMAND that this article be changed. Autostraddle FAIL.

    • No seriously I read a ton of news and I’d never seen anything more than a faint rumor about Manning’s gender identity. I feel like you’re being unnecessarily judgmental and harsh toward the article’s author, when a simple “Hey did you know about this maybe look into it and consider changing the language” would have gone a lot further.

      We’d all do a lot better to constructively criticize action instead of assuming intent.

      • Gone a lot further toward what? What I am pointing out is that Autostraddle trends in this direction – the way it handles trans identities is superficial at best and ignorant, erasing, and harmful at worst. I’m sorry if that seems “unnecessarily judgmental and harsh” to you.

        I would also like to point out that it’s a privilege for you to have read “tons of news” and not come across this subject. Do you read many blogs by/for trans people? Because I can assure you, this has been a topic for months.

        Lastly, the author has had plenty of time to issue an author’s note or change this article. It hasn’t happened. Therefore, I’m not asking nicely anymore.

        So please, please consider what you’re saying in the context of transphobia. Yes, I’m angry that the trans community (and my identity) is currently contested and ignored. Yes, my tone might not always be the most productive. Would you be so kind as to look past that and deal with the issues at stake here?

        • We can’t deal with the issues at stake here if everyone feels personally attacked, is what I’m saying.

          I think it’s safe to assume that you feel personally attacked by a perceived whitewashing of trans identities (valid), and that has perhaps resulted in lashing out with an equally personal attack.

          This cycle does not help further productive discussion about what is, I’m in full agreement, and important and highly sensitive topic.

          • Seriously and really, we don’t all have the same trans feelings about this because We Are Not a Monolith ™ and as uncomfortable as some may be with Manning perhaps being erased I am equally uncomfortable asserting I know a damn thing about how Manning wants to be identified in public. From what I understand Manning was perhaps forcibly outed and adding to that could ALSO be harmful. Honestly it’s this kind of vitriol that makes me feel shut out from my own community.

  11. I think as far as the trans thing goes the issue is actually that no one knows if that actually is the issue in play. From everything I’ve read it hasn’t been confirmed that the soldier in question has a trans identity. A lot of queer sites have picked up the story but I don’t think any of the legal representatives have said, other than to comment that sexuality and identity are irrelevant to the case.

    • You actually have no idea what you’re talking about and should probably read up on a thing or two before you smear your ignorance all over the internet #kthxbisexual

        • I am also trans and have been following this for months. So, I guess the trans community is diverse and we are all unique flowers swaying in the queer meadow.

          Google? Touche indeed.

          • “So, I guess the trans community is diverse and we are all unique flowers swaying in the queer meadow.”

            Well yeah, we kinda are.

            Secondly I think while obviously erasure is Bad, it’s also a bad thing to assume how Manning wants to be identified in a public way. I have questioning friends. They have GID. They’re not ready to say they’re trans. Even if Manning DOES wish to identify as trans, what pronouns Manning prefers, or what name, or when is not something any of us knows. Since we’re all unique trans flowers it’s possible Manning isn’t even binary identified, or not binary identified all the time, or has two identities, or whatever. It’s not fair to take this information and force an identity on someone, especially if they’re questioning, which it sounds like Manning is at least from the articles I’ve read about it. It strikes me uncomfortably like outing and the outing that has already happened has got to be damaging enough.

            I get that you’re angry but don’t confuse being angry and lashing out with changing minds and any kind of activism. There’s no need to tear in to us and especially not other trans people over it. We might not always see eye to eye but we definitely shouldn’t be having dog fights.

  12. Seriously, though.
    This is amazing news…but I’m baffled by how insistently the people ON HER SIDE are misgendering her. They seem to think it’s irrelevant or makes things too confusing.

    Please use her chosen name and she/her pronouns.

    • I agree that the evidence that Pte Manning is a trans woman is pretty persuasive, but we should be wary of trying to second guess her wishes wrt to gendering in public, given that we only know about Manning’s transness from a transcript of a private conversation. We have to respect people’s gender identity, of course, but we must also be careful not to out anyone against zir wishes.

      That said, any damage that might have been done to Manning or her case by outing her has probably already happened, and I would feel uncomfortable referring to her with gender-neutral or third-gender pronouns and absolutely refuse to use male ones.

      I would like to add my voice to the throng of people respectfully calling Autostraddle out for its trans-erasure.

      • This is really what I am trying to get at. I mean I am trans and I have pronouns I prefer but I experience a lot of anxiety if I get outed that way in a space where I haven’t yet made that an issue I want to fight for. I don’t know Manning’s feelings on that and therefore I don’t know if I am super comfortable assigning Manning a trans identity that maybe Manning isn’t yet comfortable with sharing. Still, I am making every effort to refer to Manning without pronouns until it’s known what Manning prefers. Which really, Autostraddle probably should have done too.

  13. well, my thoughts on this. i’ve just been watching that infamous video and reading some stuff over on wikipedia.
    1) i believe she(!?) did it for a good purpose but
    2) she violated their internal law
    3) she is nevertheless, as a human being, entitled to a fair trial and to not be physically abused
    4) i still don’t think she deserves a nobel prize, because she violated a law that she actually signed, since she was serving in the military and no one forced her to
    5) the only exception i see to my logic of reasoning is if the videos she posted (and i only saw one and it is too technical and complicated for me to assess) they show violations of that internal military law she has to respond too
    6) in that case she is exposing a breach in the law and should not be punished
    7) but nevertheless this still has to be discussed in a courtroom
    8.) and lastly, even though it pains me that this person might be suffering emotionally from the aggravation of coming from a minority, her sexual orientation or gender orientation has nothing to do with this matter and thus in conclusion:
    1) give her a fair trial
    2) stop torturing her
    3) don’t give her a nobel.
    my thoughts.

      • Frankly we can go around and around about this forever. Until Manning comes out and makes a statement eirself I refuse to make any assumptions about gender.

        I’ve always been told that when you aren’t sure you should ask which pronouns a person would prefer. I can’t ask Manning so I’m not going to gender eir either way because I do not know what e wants.

        Please don’t take this as condoning the article’s prodigious use of male pronouns and calling Manning a gay male, because it isn’t. I’m just very uncomfortable with calling some one by a gender that I’ve never seen them claim except by hearsay.

        • No, sorry, I’ve heard that very same excuse used to misgender hundreds of trans women reported on in the media (especially gay media). It doesn’t cut it nor is how pervasive the misgendering has occurred or that some of it was from LGBQ sources some sort of justification for continuing it. As I mentioned on some other threads on Autostraddle, Manning’s trans identity was first reported nearly a year and a half ago (at a very mainstream gay blog, Bilerico). And sorry, but Manning being in prison doesn’t make it too likely you’re going to get a home visit and one-on-one discussion of pronouns.

  14. oh my. When I saw the title my first thought was actually to wonder whether this article would mention Manning’s trans* status and which names and pronouns would be used.. I am pretty disappointed. However, I think some of the discussions in the comments here have been productive.

    I’ve been a lurker for a long time but this is my first post.

  15. I don’t really know where to reply to (there’s been a lot of argument about this in the comments on this article), so I’m just going to post a general comment and hope someone notices. I think there are three things that are true about this situation and this article: it’s a very difficult situation, there’s a lot of ambiguity about what’s right and true, and this article doesn’t acknowledge the ambiguity. As far as I know, these two statements are factual:

    1) Adrian Lamo revealed private transcripts of conversations he’d had with Manning that showed that Manning was questioning their gender. (I use gender-neutral “they” here because I don’t know which pronouns are most respectful—I’ll talk about this more.) This is clearly an involuntary outing.

    2) Manning’s legal team refers to them as “he” and “Bradley,” and claims this is what their client prefers I would *conjecture* that this is a tactical choice. They’re facing a military judge or a military jury, and this case also has a large political element (as the Peace Prize nomination shows): they may think as a tactical matter that a gay male defendant would be more sympathetic than a trans female defendant. If this is a tactical decision they’re making, it says volumes about bigotry against trans people in society and the military. Note that irrespective of the DADT repeal, trans people are still not allowed to serve openly in the military.

    Manning’s real feelings and identity are unknowable. Manning has been kept mostly in solitary confinement, with limited contact with their lawyers and immediate family. We have no basis for knowing what Manning would prefer, especially since there’s a huge element of government coercion here.

    What’s the “right” thing to do? I think that’s hard to say. How many different moral principles does this case touch on? We should respect people’s identities, but what do we do in the case when someone has been involuntarily outed? Is it really right to assist someone in lying, given that their claimed identity is contradicted by strong independent evidence? Should we refer to Ted Haggard, George Rekers, and Larry Craig as “straight” despite their clear interest in sex with other men? What role does discrimination play here in Manning’s decision to present themself as a gay man? What are the relative weights between truth, respect, and expediency?

    I don’t know the answer to this question, but I think this article doesn’t do the situation justice. I want to see the ambiguities tackled head-on: mention that Manning expressed that they’re questioning their gender identity, mention that they were involuntarily outed, discuss pronouns and names, etc. I don’t think calling them “gay” and using “Bradley” and “he” without describing all the qualifiers is truthful, and I’m not sure it’s respectful either.

    • Cara, thank you for your beautifully expressed comment. You’ve dealt with the complexity of the situation far better than the original OP did.

  16. There are a number of things no one here has considered.

    1. Manning swore an oath to the US Army and later singed oaths to maintain the trust he later broke (Digger to address this one). Build into the system are channels for grievances and he chose not to use them. The video’s he released shed no light onto the incidents and unlike other nations, we acknowledge our mistakes and take step so correct them.

    2. Manning’s action have led to more deaths by revealing the identities (either directly or indirectly through description of sources) that have led to beheadings. But hey, let’s not protest that because they’re not Americans.

    3. Manning wasn’t motivated solely by his cause for social injustice. Rather, he took his actions as retaliation, showing he’s a spoiled brat and not some peace activist.

    4. Manning was a low level analyst who didn’t have the experience or training to understand the effects of what it he released. It’s hard to believe he was able to sort through 90,000 plus documents and judge them to be of interest to anyone.

    5. Manning betrayed those with whom he served. Above all else, there’s an implied trust among those whose lives you depend on. I hear all of this talk about murder however, I’ve not yet heard anyone talk about the technical data that was released so our Soldiers could be killed. How in the world does that qualify as murder.

    6. Lastly, try posting these things in Syria, North Korea, Iran, and on and on. Manning is guilty of betraying the public trust; your trust.

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